Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2005 19:54:08 -0600
Subject: DPS Mailing #05-03: Alert:  Outer Planets Research Cancelled
ALERT: Outer Planets Research Cancelled; Concern for all R&A Programs
Dear Colleagues:
On January 24, 2006, Curt Niebur, Discipline Scientist for the 
Outer Planets Research Program sent a message to PIs in that 
program rescinding funding letters that had been received in 
early December, because those funds had been redirected by 
senior management. This action is to my knowledge without 
precedent in the NASA Research and Analysis programs and is 
having substantial and significant negative impact on many 
The DPS is collecting impact statements from the affected PIs. 
These are being posted at
NASA planetary R&A programs fund most of the planetary community, 
and they are the principal sources of funding in training the 
next generation of planetary scientists. These programs provide 
us with the knowledge we need to form the questions we try to 
answer with the much more expensive mission programs and 
provide the scientific framework within which we interpret 
the data from those missions. Raiding these small, but 
valuable programs to pay for other agency needs such as 
shuttle return to flight threatens both the present and the 
future of solar system exploration by the United States.
We are gravely concerned that the zeroing of OPRP is just 
the beginning of future cutbacks and zeroing of other R&A 
programs. We are deeply worried it represents a fundamental 
lack of appreciation by senior NASA management of the critical 
role these programs play in solar system exploration.
We call on you to contact your congressional representatives. 
Call their Washington offices and speak to the staffers that 
handle science issues. They need to know that small basic 
science Research and Analysis programs are under attack at 
NASA in order to staunch funding problems with far larger 
and completely disconnected programs such as shuttle return 
to flight. They need to know that these research programs 
form the foundation on which this country's solar system 
exploration program is built. Loss of funding in these 
programs will result directly in the loss of planetary 
scientists, particularly younger scientists, and it will 
take a generation to rebuild, if we ever do.
You can find out your Senator by going to, 
and your Representative by going to, 
or go to for links, information, 
and other advice in dealing with Congress. Calling or faxing 
is best; e-mail is not given as much attention.
I cannot stress how important it is at this point to simply 
be heard, even if it only a phone call or short fax.  There 
is an opportunity to get NASA to reconsider this decision, 
but only if everyone acts now.
William B. McKinnon
DPS Chair
Linda French Emmons, DPS Secretary
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